Groban brings more energy, intensity to the stage
If the songs on Josh Groban's latest CD, “All That Echoes,” translate especially well to the concert stage, there's a good reason for that.
“We basically wanted it to have a live energy,” Groban says of a goal he and producer Rob Cavallo set for the album. “I had just gotten off of the road and was inspired by everything that came from that energy on stage. I, basically, wanted to put some of that energy in the studio.”
Groban, whose lush music bridges the gap from classical to pop, hasn't suddenly turned into AC/DC. But the more-energetic feel of some songs on “All That Echoes,” along with the involvement of Cavallo, a producer know for his work with Green Day, Fleetwood Mac and the Goo Goo Dolls, has had some people going as far as to say there's a rock element to the album.
That's a bit extreme, Groban says.
“I've got to say that the word ‘rock' never entered our minds, because it just kind of implies a certain kind of grunginess that wasn't necessarily part of what I ever thought was in my wheelhouse,” he says.
“But the idea of using energy and using intensity was always on our minds. I think we realized that there was a way to bring out that intensity in what I do without changing what my lane is and what my voice does, so we wanted the music to be upbeat. We wanted it to be rhythmic.”
For now, Groban's focus is on the North American leg of his tour, which comes to Consol Energy Center on Nov. 2.
He's shaking up his approach this time out by performing a career-spanning set of material in the round.
He thinks putting the stage in the center of arenas, with the audience on all sides of the stage, brings more intimacy and spontaneity to his performance.
“When you're playing with the traditional stage setup, you've got your front 10 rows, and then you've got nosebleed seats everywhere,” Groban says. “It's a lot of fun to look out on. It's a lot of people. But it's not necessarily the best experience for everybody in the audience. So, putting the stage in the middle means there really are no nosebleed seats.
“Basically, there are four front rows and the seats won't have to go very far back. So, it's, I think, the best of all worlds, energy-wise, for us.”
Despite Cavallo's involvement, “All That Echoes” isn't a drastic departure from earlier platinum-selling Groban albums such as his 2001 self-titled debut, 2003's “Closer” or 2006's “Awake.”
For the project, Cavallo assembled a top-flight cast of musicians to help bring the songs from “All That Echoes” to life. The twist is they came from both the rock and classical worlds. Guitarist Tim Pierce (Madonna, Dave Matthews), bassist Chris Chaney (Jane's Addiction) and drummer Matt Chamberlain and Abe Laboriel Jr. (Paul McCartney's band) were paired with string players such as harpist Gayle Lavant and violinist Charlie Bisharat, adding a bit of rhythmic punch (especially to more-energetic tracks, like “Brave,” “Below The Line” and “False Alarms”) to the lush and graceful melodicism that has always characterized Groban's music.
Groban also pushed forward as a songwriter, contributing to seven songs, while also pulling from the pop world for songs like “Falling Slowly” (by Glen Hansard), “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” (by Jimmy Webb) and Stevie Wonder's “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever”), while “Sincera” and “E Ti Promettero” are more in the classical/Italian vein.
Having finished the album and being thrilled with the results, Groban says he expects to work with Cavallo again and calls the collaboration a highlight of his career.
“I feel the same way starting to work with Rob that I did when I started to work with David Foster,” Groban says. “I was kind of feeling ... this is somebody who really shares a vision and is somebody who is so multi-dimensional, he's so knowledgeable about the orchestral world, he's knowledgeable about all different styles of music. ... We have at least one more (album) under us, and we'll see where we go from there.”
Alan Sculley is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Classical music enthusiasts have a variety of choices
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra takes different trips with Mason Bates, Valentina Lisitsa
- Top-level jazz shows include Monheit, Branford Marsalis
- Classical music crisis: Author says schools today aren’t building audiences